Deputy Chief Counsel
Nell DeVane, deputy chief counsel, has been with ESPN since 1997 (including a brief return to private practice) and in 2009 she was promoted to vice president/associate general counsel. As one of the senior attorneys in ESPN’s legal department, she currently manages areas of the Legal Department handling Programming, Production and Distribution.
In addition, she is the senior member of the team which handles corporate matters, including mergers and acquisitions. She oversees the legal teams handling agreements relating to network distribution, programming, rights acquisition, studio production, remote productions, ESPN Films, and various categories of sports programming. She previously directly handled, at various times, the legal work, including negotiation of agreements, for various areas including: distribution agreements with several of the largest national cable and satellite distributors, and legal work for real estate acquisition, development and campus construction, technical operations and engineering (including IT), human resources, facilities and security, newsgathering, and, over the course of her career at ESPN, the legal work of virtually every area of the company.
First working at ESPN in a newly created counsel position in 1997, DeVane worked on projects including the acclaimed SportsCentury project. During a brief return to private practice at law firm Tyler, Cooper and Alcorn, she continued to advise ESPN on corporate and real estate matters, as well as advising Disney-associated production companies on entertainment (principally publicity rights) issues. DeVane returned to ESPN in 1999 as assistant general counsel, working in a broad variety of areas, including the creation and launch of ESPN’s first European networks. In 2005, Nell was elevated to associate general counsel, with responsibilities including the negotiation and drafting of many of ESPN’s major affiliation and distribution arrangements. Nell has been Deputy Chief Counsel since 2012.
Prior to her first stint at ESPN, DeVane had a broad transactional and intellectual property practice at the Connecticut law firm Wiggin and Dana where, among other things, she assisted ESPN on real estate transactions and land use matters in the development of its burgeoning campus in Bristol, Conn.
DeVane received a bachelor of arts degree with honors and distinction in her major, English literature, from Yale College in 1986, a master of arts in English literature from Columbia University in 1989, and a law degree from Yale Law School in 1993.
She is also a graduate of the WICT (Women in Cable Telecommunications) 2008-09 Betsy Magness fellowship program. DeVane serves on the board of the Connecticut Broadcasters Association, and is a Life Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation.